There are songs and pieces of music that you recognize even when you might not recall the creator or where it came from; it is the music that sticks in your memory for many reasons. Some of those reasons are pure nostalgia and some are because the music touched something deep within you and it stays in those memory banks for later recall when you need them. There are those that make our toes start tapping and those that make us get a little watery in the eyes. Some of them recall moments past and some make us wish for moments yet to be. I have compiled a list of a few that affected me. These are not necessarily from any top ten list but pieces that I think must of us recognize and impacted us then and still impact us now. These are not listed in any order of preference but listed from my personal memory as those pieces that more than others I feel connected to for various reasons. Compare my list with your own.
1. In the Mood–even those who grew up on pure rock and roll will recognize this one. It is the signature piece from Glenn Miller and the Silent Generation and is still played today at any prom or major gala. If you enjoy music at all you can’t help but tap or wiggle a little when the band hits that downbeat.
2. Yankee Doodle–it is neither north nor south but recalls that binding unity for an entire nation. Johnny Reb and Billy Yank both light up when they recall they stood for a common cause and a cause that is worth defending today.
3. The Star Spangled Bannner–yeah I know, you hear it all the time but think of those moments when the harvest moon is out and it is Friday night and the high school team is about to play. The stands are filled with moms and dads, younger brothers and sisters and that refrain wafts across a late September field. If it is played and performed as written it can’t help but inspire everyone who claims the American heritage. Those closing lines are a real charge to each generation to never let down “the home of the brave”.
4. Que Sera–I loved Doris Day. What a voice and this is such a happy song. Only the most confirmed curmudgeon can’t help but get a lift from this one. Curious that they only did one take of the song which is very unusual and Doris didn’t even like it. She thought it was too “fluffy” but it became her banner hit.
5. Singin in the Rain–the classic toe tapper. Even when the times are tough and the skies gray, you can’t help but feel better listening to Gene Kelly and the upbeat tone of this one. It captures that American spirit.
6. Beethoven’s Fifth–You have heard this one. It does stir those feelings of being able to triumph over hard times. That opening is indeed a classic. Ba,ba,ba, boom….You just expect great things can happen when that is behind you. It was the calling card of the BBC all during WWII for good reasons.
7. Handel’s Messiah–what a piece of music. You know it. Even rap lover’s would have to acknowledge the power of this one. It moves the soul and that is a mark of its power.
8. Ode to the Common Man–by A. Copeland. You might not recognize the title but you have heard it, many times. It was the opening piece in Saving Private Ryan. It is classically American and by one of our foremost composers. It is powerful and embodies our belief in the merit of each man willing to work and strive for his betterment.
9. I Walk the Line–You might not remember all the words but you sure can hum that tune. Probably the classic of its genre.
10. Theme from Chariots of Fire–I love music that inspires and this one does. They play it now at the beginning of every marathon race. It makes you want to get off your duff and go accomplish something. It bursts with energy and emotion and fills us with the same. What more can you ask for in any music.
11. Somewhere Over the Rainbow–the ultimate Judy Garland trademark. When it is done right there is no sweeter song in the world. It does its magic for children and lovers. There is a yearning to this song that is irresistable.
12. Amazing Grace–even an atheist would have to admit that this is great music. Is there any piece that can stir such strong passions and feelings as this one. I love it played by the lone bag piper. Those strands coming across the hills calls us home indeed. It is powerful. It can move people from the four corners of the globe.
Ok, that is it. I know there are thousands of others that could be on any list of favorites. But the point here was to select those that have a lasting impact. I know many of you will think of others and think I was wacky with some of my choices. That is ok. If I only stirred you to think about the music that affected you then this exercise has been a success.